Smarter Customer Growth

What to Measure – Productivity Software

In Part 1 we listed the metrics that would best serve email marketing and marketing automation providers. In Part 2, we will review the metrics that should be consulted in productivity SaaS applications.

We are longtime fans and users of Trello, so it seems only natural to take it as our productivity software test case. Productivity software is usually highly, regularly used tools that match email and word processors in how frequently we use them. Whether they are personal life-streamlining apps to “remember the milk” or shared lists for improving team productivity – we quickly find ourselves using them every day, all day.


What does this means for the metrics?

  1. B2C – while many businesses use productivity software, it is not a B2B service. Your customers’ customers do not benefit from it directly. Meaning, we don’t get to use end-users analytics as part of our measuring system.
  2. High usage rates – most of the pressure on retention for productivity software is applied during the onboarding stage. Once users are properly onboarded, usage rates should settle on a daily, possibly even hourly usage rate.


So the usage graph would look something like this:

Graphic visualization productivity app usage


So how would we go about measuring usage for hyper-used software?

For starters, measuring logins may not be as effective as it would for, say, marketing software – Trello is almost always open on a tab in an open browser. So instead of mapping login frequency, your finger should be on the activity pulse: simply scan for activity (ANY activity) several times a day.


Trello essentially works on 3 levels of task management:

  1. Boards – the broadest category, intended to divide tasks into arc-topics (e.g.: product dev., marketing, sales, etc.)
  2. Lists – mid-level categories, either assigned to the individuals in the team (e.g.: Eyal, Oded, Noa, Nizar, Bob, Sarah, etc.) or else for different degrees of urgency or implementation (e.g.: For Tomorrow, In Progress, Completed).
  3. Cards – single tasks that can be moved from one list to the other and can contain lists of items within them. These cards can do a whole bunch of other cool stuff that isn’t relevant to our case study, so we will regrettably refrain from expounding on it.

Trello board productivity SaaS metrics


The point of this overview being, that Trello lists and items, like most other productivity software, are highly customizable, meaning it is nearly impossible to measure task completion and customer success through feature usage. While many users may stick to the default “To-Do” à “In Progress” à “Done” settings – many may not and anyway, going through your customers’ content for metrics is a breach of privacy.


So, um, how do we set up the measurement system?

Like any sound metric scale, you need a standard. The standard is set by successes, in this case – longtime users whom Trello has retained for a considerable period past the onboarding stage. Trello has the advantage of being a veteran, well known SaaS provider with a sizable user pool, so they can afford to sample year-old users. Younger SaaS applications may have to settle for less mature users. In any case, we suggest creating a Range of Reasonable Rates around the average. User behavior is more of a spectrum than a single value.


Next, we integrate our measurable parameters into the standardized scale we created. It should look something like this:

Metrics for productivity SaaS

An Evolution of SaaS Analytics

Over the past few years, we have seen a rapid evolution of analytics unfold before our very eyes. Since the analytics ball is still rolling, it is exciting to see how changes in SaaS analytics design swiftly adapt to technology and marketing trends. Immediate history, analysis of current affairs and prediction, all rolled up in one. Kind of like a SaaS analytics dashboard.


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Why Conversion is the Most Dangerous Vanity Metric of them All

Much frantic typing has been poured into the uncovering of and warning hereby of the hazards of SaaS vanity metrics. Most commonly vanity metrics refer to marketing metrics, traffic and occasionally – the relationship between web analytics and customer centric analytics.

Selecting which analytics to track is generally trickier when you are required to drill down to customer-specific stats. The need to create a customer success standard usually drives the data people to narrow the selection of metrics so it will be easier to integrate with different user patterns. All of this means that while there should be less customer acquisition metrics to chase than there were marketing metrics, customer acquisition has its fair share of metric traps as well.

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who has the best SaaS metrics of them all?


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Do End-User Metrics Belong in the Retention Plan?

Many SaaS companies provide services to other SaaS companies and digital providers. As such, they also provide services indirectly to their customers’ end-users. A remote, one-sided relationship is formed. But to what extent? How much does a SaaS provider need to research its customers’ end-users? How much do end-user metrics need to be considered in these chains of service providing and are they even necessary for effective customer acquisition?

Customer health monitoring chain

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Choosing a Free CRM for Startups

An objective truth in the small-medium businesses world: it is never too early to automate your sales process. Even as at the bootstrapping, 5-none-paying-customers phase of your venture.  We love excel as much as the next data geeks, but part of thinking strategically means finding a CRM that can grow with you and meet your needs as they change.


There are loads of CRM list reviews out there, many of them thorough and comprehensive. But the more we delved, the more lost we got in the details of various specs and capabilities, not entirely sure anymore how to separate the wheat from the chaff. So we came up with the specs we would want to have reviewed, being a small-medium business ourselves, wielding our own machetes in the online jungles of digital coconuts and know-how.



Customer management is a complex ordeal, no matter how small your company is.


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What to Measure: TestCases for Best SaaS Metrics – Part 1

We previously made the case for focusing on metrics that reflect the value a customer derives from your service. We decided that like most things, this principle is better explained with examples. And since we are writing for our peers –small-medium SaaS companies– it made sense to choose as test cases SaaS providers who are suited (feature-wise  and pricing-wise) to our crowd.

We will be focusing on 3 parameters for each test case:

  • Value derived
  • Usage frequency
  • Onboarding stage


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Stop Wasting Time on the Wrong Customer Acquisition Metrics

Metrics have a strange, somewhat inexplicable allure over SaaS providers. It’s as though the number patterns hold a mysterious, elusive cipher to success. Maybe if we eyeball enough graphs, look at the customer usage stats through enough segments and rummage through enough site flows and clickthrough rates, we will be able to unravel that million-dollar metric-molecule that will tell us how to give our users exactly what they want. It’s a question of covering as much data ground as possible, right?


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